Averaging nearly 20 wins per season and having completed 26 seasons as head coach of her alma mater, there are not many, if any, college basketball experiences that Chris Weller has missed. Her achievements have been remarkable and her contributions to the growth of collegiate women’s basketball are documented with the best known coaches in the game. She embarks on her 27th Terrapin season boasting, and hoping to build upon, the following list of notables:
• Weller is one of a very small handful of college coaches, men’s or women’s, to coach 25 seasons at the same institution.
In addition to Weller’s accomplishments, her players have experienced personal success as well. The Terrapin program has produced five Olympians, three Kodak All-Americans, 28 athletes who have participated on national teams and at least four players currently active in professional basketball. But Terrapin success goes far beyond the basketball court: it extends into the classroom as well. Since 1980, all but one athlete who finished her eligibility earned a diploma. This is a tribute to Weller’s high expectations for her student-athletes both on and off the court.
Taking over the program in 1975 from Dottie McKnight, success came quickly for Chris Weller. The Terps produced a 20-win season her first year and advanced to the EAIAW Regional Tournament for the first time in program history. The following season she coached the Terps to a final season ranking of 13th, the first of eight consecutive seasons the Terps finished ranked in the Top 20. In 1978 Maryland made its first trip to the national championship recording a 27-4 record, winning the first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference championship and advancing to the AIAW Final Four in Los Angeles, Calif. Maryland went on to win four more conference championships in the following five years along with its second trip to the Final Four in 1982. Maryland advanced to the Sweet 16 both in 1983 and 1984 and the Elite Eight in 1988. The 1989 squad won a school record 29 games that included a 21-game win streak, advanced to the Terps’ third Final Four appearance and finished fifth in the Associated Press poll. Maryland averaged a school-record 85.3 points per game in 1989, outscoring its opponents by an average of 19 points per game. Weller was named the ACC and American Sports Foundation’s National Coach of the Year in 1989.
Ranked 15th in the 1992 preseason poll, the Terps reached the No. 1 ranking in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls for the first time in school history. On January 21, with a record of 15-1, the Terps garnered the top spot and stayed No. 1 through February 11. During that stretch, the largest crowd to ever witness a regular season ACC game took place when the No. 1 Terrapins met the second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers before a sellout crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House. Maryland finished the season with a 25-6 mark and a final ranking of No. 8. Weller was honored by the press and coaching fraternity for her efforts. She was recognized as the 1992 Naismith National Coach of the Year, the Basketball Writer’s Association of America National Coach of the Year, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference National Coach of the Year.
Maryland appeared again in the NCAA championship in 1993 and 1997, as well as the WNIT quarterfinals in 2000.
Last season, Weller led the Terps were back in the NCAA tournament, receiving their 17th postseason bid. The 2000-01 season was highlighted by sweeps of ACC foes Clemson and NC State. All four wins came when the teams were ranked in the Top 20.
Weller’s basketball knowledge and coaching expertise has extended beyond the confines of Cole Field House. She was an assistant coach for the U.S. National Jones Cup Team in 1985 and the head coach of the U.S. Select Team in 1986, 1992 and 1994.
Weller has dedicated herself to the growth of women’s basketball in the state of Maryland promoting the formation of the Maryland Coaches’ Association. Nationally Weller has served as the long-time chairperson of the WBCA Legislative Committee and has served as the EAIAW Basketball committee chairperson. Weller was also a member of the Kodak All-American Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
A 1966 Maryland graduate, Weller was a four-year varsity letterwinner in basketball and also participated on the swimming and lacrosse squads. Following graduation, she taught and coached at John F. Kennedy High School in nearby Silver Spring, Md. Weller returned to Maryland for her master’s degree in 1973 and became an assistant for two seasons under Dottie McKnight. In 1975, the Weller dynasty began as she was elevated to head coach.
Having extensive experience as a clinician and public speaker, Weller runs an annual summer camp on the Maryland campus.